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Wisconsin National Guard works to cut down COVID-19 testing wait times

Posted at 5:26 PM, Jul 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-09 18:44:28-04

MILWAUKEE — Early Thursday morning, long lines were seen at the drive-thru COVID-19 testing site located on Chase Ave. The site opened at 11 a.m. but people like Tom Hyland arrived hours before to avoid long lines.

“That’s why I came out here early today. I have nothing else to do, I’m retired,” said Hyland.

On Thursday, state and Wisconsin National Guard officials announced a new tool called COVID Connect to help speed up the testing process.

The tool will allow people to register for their test and submit information from their phones while waiting in their vehicles. Once registering, the site will then provide a QR code, a member of the National Guard will scan the code and the system will automatically populate your information. The tool is meant to create less contact and help speed up the overall process.

“It’s really quick, it could take 30 seconds, so you’re really cutting the time down drastically that’s required to process a car in line,” said Wisconsin National Guard Maj. Gen. Paul Knapp.

In addition to cutting down wait times, the information will provide contact tracers with critical information if a person does test positive, like place of employment.

Along with COVID Connect, Maj. Gen. Knapp said they are flexing teams to different sites depending on demand and opening up all six lanes to get people in and out as quickly as possible.

At the UMOS location, the demand for testing fluctuated throughout the day, by 2:00 pm only a handful of vehicles were in line. National Guard members said the long lines in the morning create a backlog.

Despite the long lines, Tom said he didn’t mind waiting.

“I have an 88-year-old mother up north and I want to go up and see her and I don’t want to give her anything if something did happen and I didn’t get tested or whatever and something happened to her I would never forgive myself,” said Hyland.

COVID Connect should be launching in Milwaukee in the upcoming week.

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